Simpson did point out that participants in the study were not opposed to casual relationships, which are "a form of companionship, such as going to the movies and having sex. But it was not with someone they would want to bring home to their parents, and they didn't want to marry them," she explains.
For Diane, 42, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, being single has meant being able to spend as much time as possible with her son (now 18) and pursue her life's passion, showing horses. "I'm just not going to give up my life for someone else," she says. Other bonuses of soloing? "No dinners with his boss, no trips to visit his parents," notes Dana, 34, of Nashville.
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"And no one's taking out their frustrations about their day or yelling at me about what I spend on shoes or travel," adds Rima. What these women do have in common with Bridget is friends. "I have people in my life I can call on for anything," says Rima.
"Being single actually helps you value friends and family more," notes Sonia, 32, of Philadelphia, who spends her weekends going to galleries and flea markets with the girls. "When I was younger, I would start dating a guy and stop seeing my friends. But life is not just all about the new guy, it's about the other people, too."
Even today, "spinster" carries a sting. "I wanted to reclaim the word," says Simpson. "These women's lives are not characterized by loneliness and isolation."
Heather agrees. "The notion that there is something wrong with a single woman, especially past a certain age, is alive and well," she adds. "I think a lot of women fear turning into Patty and Selma from The Simpsons."
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Despite negative images, many single women wouldn't change. "My life isn't better without a commitment, but it is definitely just as good," declares Dana.